Win Big the EXA Way by Alex McPhail book cover

Win Big The EXA Way

The Comprehensive Guide to Capture and Proposal Leadership

Alex McPhail

From first contact to winning the contract: maximize your win probability.

Winning RFPs requires more than great proposal management—and winning big demands inspired enterprise-wide leadership at the executive, capture, and proposal levels. The EXA Way is a process and a philosophy that goes beyond winning individual RFPs. In writing this essential guide to succeeding as a contractor, Alex McPhail draws upon four decades of experience to show you how to create a strategic advantage that continuously outperforms your competitors and consistently elevates your win probability across your organization.

In Win Big The EXA Way, McPhail weaves together the many disparate threads of a complex pursuit, and backs up his approach with real case studies in aerospace, transportation, infrastructure, health, IT, finance, and in all branches of defense. He examines every aspect of RFP pursuits—costing, subcontracting, teaming, offsets, win themes, gates, reviews, proposal writing—and shows you how to transform a good capture and proposal group into a championship team.

Win Big the EXA Way delivers so much more than just a proposal development methodology. McPhail’s deep insights into leadership, process, strategy, and human dynamics illuminates the path that lies between goals and results. Beyond winning RFP pursuits in detail, Win Big The EXA Way also examines the idiosyncrasies inherent in Canadian procurement and how to navigate them.

Through the development and application of The EXA Way, McPhail has grown EXA into Canada’s foremost capture and proposal firm. EXA now supports more than one-third of Canada’s top thirty defense contractors. EXA’s many procurement blogs and podcasts underscore McPhail’s deep understanding and leadership role in pursuing complex contracts.


Win Big The EXA Way demonstrates with force and wisdom what matters in Canadian defence procurement… All academics and analysts working on Canadian defense affairs should read this book to understand what it takes to craft successful bids from a private-sector perspective.”

Win Big The EXA Way is a tour de force revealing deep, experience-based insights into the complexity and subtle and potentially misunderstood dynamics of Canada’s procurement system. Regardless of what role you play within this environment, there is much to learn from this book.”

Win Big The EXA Way provides a thorough and authoritative overview of the skills and efforts required to win large and complex government contracts… The relatable case studies of the good, bad, and ugly bring meaningful life lessons to the book. I will refer to this book often!”


Win Big The EXA Way provides a time-tested, proven, and effective approach to successful capture in Canada’s highly complex and evolving defense sector… Win Big is today’s Rosetta stone for capture and proposal leadership within the Canadian defense sector, providing everything from the relevant vernacular, to debunking common assumptions about Canadian procurement, and to worked examples of the application of the tools that are the foundation of the EXA Way… You must add a copy of Win Big to your C&P success toolbox.”

“Without Alex McPhail’s guidance we would not have won the military program that ensured our company’s long-term viability. We continue to use the EXA Way processes with remarkable success in Canada and internationally… This book represents a definitive reference for any company planning on participating in major Canadian government procurements… It is also mandatory reading for government procurement practitioners as it does an excellent job of outlining how the RFP structure and evaluation approach impacts both the bidders and the customer.”

“This book clearly and precisely presents the processes and leadership any company must follow to win a major tender… Win Big The EXA Way is a must-read for anyone eager to improve their win rates for large competitive contracts.”


Alex McPhail has over thirty-five years of RFP experience from industry, government, and academia—earning him respect as one of Canada’s leading bid managers. As CEO of The EXA Consulting Group and the founder of The EXA Way, McPhail has led successful pursuits ranging from small quarter-million to huge billion-dollar programs. He is a recognized public speaker, lecturer, and podcaster in business leadership, Canadian procurement, and government contracting processes. McPhail holds a bachelor of science from the University of Waterloo and has taught strategic management in both the Master of Public Administration program at Carleton University and at the Sloan School of Business.

ISBN 978-1-77458-390-6
$49.95 CAD $39.95 USD
Published October 3, 2023
7 × 10 506 Pages
paperback, ebook